Justice in Plainclothes

A Theory of American Constitutional Practice

Lawrence G. Sager

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April 28, 2006
260 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300116755
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

In this important book, Lawrence Sager, a leading constitutional theorist, offers a lucid understanding and compelling defense of American constitutional practice. Sager treats judges as active partners in the enterprise of securing the fundamentals of political justice, and sees the process of constitutional adjudication as a promising and distinctly democratic addition to that enterprise. But his embrace of the constitutional judiciary is not unqualified. Judges in Sager’s view should and do stop short of enforcing the whole of the Constitution; and the Supreme Court should welcome rather than condemn the efforts of Congress to pick up the slack.

Among the surprising fruits of this justice-seeking account of American constitutional practice are a persuasive case for the constitutional right to secure a materially decent life and sympathy for the obduracy of the Constitution to amendment. No book can end debate in this conceptually tumultuous area; but Justice in Plainclothes is likely to help shape the ongoing debate for years to come.

Lawrence G. Sager holds the Alice Jane Drysdale Sheffield Regents Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin.

"Well-written and nicely argued. . . . This excellent work is written in a relaxed style amenable to anyone with an interest in constitutionalism and politics. Highly recommended."—Choice

“This book is elegantly written, subtly argued, and full of interesting asides and original observations.”—Michael Seidman, Georgetown University Law School

"Justice in Plainclothes brilliantly demonstrates how our constitutional practice, viewed in its best light, mediates and reconciles our fundamental commitments to popular politics and judicial judgment, present autonomy and historical continuity, pragmatic policy and moral principle, and, ultimately, law and justice."—Daryl Levinson, New York University School of Law

"In this carefully plotted, lucidly argued, and timely book, Sager makes a formidable case for the democratic superiority of a ’justice-seeking’ conception of American constitutionalism over populist rivals."—Frank Michelman, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University